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Women want end to ‘mademoiselle’

Women’s groups bid to get rid of unwanted and offensively intrusive title of mademoiselle

FEMINIST groups want to abolish the use of the “anachronistic” title of mademoiselle on all official forms and use madame instead, so as to match the male monsieur.

They say men are not asked to tick the box marked “Young, unmarried man” damoiseau and ask why women should be made to tick “Young, unmarried woman” – especially if they are no longer young.

Campaign groups Osez le Féminisme and Chiennes de Garde have been battling to get rid of the unwanted title for years and have launched an internet site www.madameoumadame.fr to spark new action.

They say men are not judged on their marital status and, with one out of two babies born outside marriage, neither should women, adding: “This language is an important pointer to the position we give women in society.”

As adults, women have the right to be known as madame regardless of age and this is enshrined in a law dating from 1938. The groups say that forms from La Poste, the taxman or the local council should all be changed as there is no legal need for the distinction and it comes simply from usage that is now out of date.

Osez le Féminisme spokeswoman Julie Muret said people no longer called young men damoiseau [squire] as it was an old-fashioned and outmoded title: the same should be happening to mademoiselle.

She added that men were never asked if they were married if they wanted to get a credit card or a mobile phone; but women always were, with the question mademoiselle or madame on all forms. “No, it’s only women who are obliged to reveal this aspect of their private lives – and it’s practically only in France that this still happens.”

In Britain the term Ms has taken over from Miss or Mrs in many places and is now common usage on forms. In Portugal, Denmark and Germany only the madame form is used, while in Quebec it is frowned upon to use the term mademoiselle.

Now the campaign groups want women to download form letters from the website to be sent to shops, companies and official departments to get details changed.
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